Post Cards From Paradise – J/24 National Championship
Editor’s Note: This is the second dispatch from our man in Amsterdam Kent Bartlett who reported on his experience a the J/24 National Championship.
Day 2 of the J/24 US National Championships was nothing short of spectacular. The breeze was stronger topping out at about 16 knots with the puffs going to 18 knots but still from about 65 degrees off magnetic north. The fleet split in their decision to use either the genoa or the jib with the top competitors opting for the increase in sail area to cut through the chop and the majority of the rest of us opting for more pointing ability in the flat sections of water. Our first race we decided to use the genoa and quickly abandoned that idea after we saw 90% of the fleet ahead of us at the windward mark with 60% of the boats in front of us using the jib. We noted that if the driver wasn’t changing their main trim every 3-5 seconds the boat would heal excessively sliding the boat to leeward and adding to the windward helm causing the boat to slow down while it rounded up to slightly above the groove everyone was aiming for. It also didn’t hurt the jib trimmer to only have to move the clew of the jib 3 feet across the boat instead of the 15 feet that the genoa required for a proper close-hauled to close-hauled course. Being the jib trimmer I thanked (insert preferred savior here) for that last benefit. Race 1 with the genoa left us 35th across the finish line in a 45 boat fleet while Race 2 with the jib put us at 21st across the finish line. Suffice it to say we decided the jib worked just fine for us and gave us more room for error with the repercussions of being caught off guard in the chop or puffs being less than if we flew the genoa.
Left (AGAIN(I know, right?)) was the way to go upwind with some serious long lasting left shifts rolling down in the 3rd and 4th race of the day. Clear air for the first 8 minutes of the race helped the top 15 competitors put enough separation between them and the fleet to enjoy their horderves downwind. Our highlight of the day was our vastly improved starts with enough undeveloped real estate to leeward we could build a house on for 3 of the 4 intense races. We could keep our clean air flowing for just long enough to consider a clearing tack that really would just clear our breeze instead of taking us back to the middle of the course, of which I am developing an allergy to. In the last race of the day the majority of the jibs got packed below and the beefy genoas got hanked on but we decided to save our energy by not switching and were rewarded with a 19th for our intentional laziness. In fact, of the boats still using their jib’s we were the second ones to cross the upwind finish line proving that if it ain’t broke you shouldn’t fix it.
The bow dude was spot on with the timing of his duties and kept cool under some of the more pressured situations we thrust upon him plus his wave calling kept the driver honest about playing the chop.
The fearless and trusting driver went colorblind sticking to the luff telltales streaming aft and on some races had no idea where we were or what was going on around us even when we had front row seats to the horror that was a total of 3 starboard tack port tack collisions.
Our $40 patch job on our spinnaker the night before held up in the pressure proving that our young mast man (boy really) had a hard earned knack for repairing spinnakers and should forgo college and go straight to the loft.
The newly elected tactician did more than position us correctly and precisely on the line at the starts; he kept us moving towards the next shift, our options open, and the next move fully painted in our minds with little doubt as to what would go down.
I think the trimmer also did stuff… maybe… its debatable.
Overall we were much happier with our performance on Day 2 with Race 5, 6, and 7 seeing us finished 21st, 21st, and 19th respectively. Kudos to the others on team Shifty.